NATO Hints at "Political" Agreement With Russia on Missile Defense

A NATO official in a Wednesday radio interview hinted that a "political" agreement on missile defense cooperation could be reached with Russia in the coming months, ITAR -Tass reported (see GSN, April 6).

“I think it’ll be possible to tap some form of an agreement at the political level within the next few months,” NATO information bureau head in Moscow Robert Pszczel told Ekho Moskvy.

The NATO official said he did not think the former Cold War rivals had reached an impasse in their missile defense discussions, noting that the two sides carry out joint drills together.

Brussels intends to establish a European shield, through the augmenting and connecting of individual member states’ domestic capabilities, as a defense against a feared ballistic missile strike from Iran. As part of the NATO plan, the United States intends through 2020 to field increasingly sophisticated missile interceptors at bases in Poland and Romania and on warships home ported in Spain.

“The decision on setting up an antimissile system in Europe was taken after long discussions that had focused on the assessment of risks and financial capabilities, and NATO eventually drew a conclusion that the system should be built,” Pszczel said.

While Russia and NATO have held multiple rounds of talks on cooperating on missile defense, the two sides have been unable to resolve the fundamental issue of Moscow’s suspicions that the system would be secretly aimed at its long-range nuclear missiles. The Kremlin has also been angered by NATO’s efforts to implement its antimissile plans while Russian concerns go unresolved.

“We’re building it now and we’d like to cooperate with Russia on this because we believe both sides are facing similar or even just the same type of risks,” the information officer told the radio station.

“This is partnership, albeit a knotty and difficult one,” he said.

Brussels believes that alliance head Anders Fogh Rasmussen will sit down with Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin shortly after he is installed in office in early May, Pszczel said. (ITAR-Tass, April 11).
 
The NATO-Russia Council is slated to convene next week, RIA Novosti reported.
 
“The agenda is broad; everything is important – Afghanistan, various forms of cooperation and the Chicago summit,” according to Pszczel (RIA Novosti, April 11).
 
April 12, 2012
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A NATO official in a Wednesday radio interview hinted that a "political" agreement on missile defense cooperation could be reached with Russia in the coming months, ITAR -Tass reported.

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